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What Leadership Really Is

It’s possible that you think of leadership completely wrong.

It’s possible that you don’t even accurately understand what leadership really is.

Because for whatever reason, we often think of the leader as the person who is elevated.

We think of the leader as the boss who should be feared and respected.

We think of the leader as the person in charge and the person who calls the shots.

And because we sometimes think about leadership in that way, then when by pursuit or circumstance we get designated as the leader, that’s how we think it should be.

We think we should be elevated.

We think we should be the boss.

We think we should call the shots.

But we are wrong.

Or that is at least an immature understanding of leadership.

Over the years at Southwestern Consulting we’ve had the opportunity to work with great leaders, coach great leaders, and we’ve been lucky to have been mentored directly by great leaders.

One of them, CEO of the Southwestern Family of Companies Henry Bedford, taught us early on that one of the jobs of the leader is to remove barriers from people on the front lines.

He taught us that leadership is not about having the fancy back corner office but that the important work is done on the front lines.

He taught us that leadership is not about having people working for you but about having people and a mission for whom it is worth working for.

In simple terms, he and other mature leaders like Ken Blanchard, have taught us that leadership is about service.

It’s not about being served; it’s about serving.

It’s not about being protected; it’s about protecting.

It’s not about being revered; it’s about revering.

But serving doesn’t mean you’re weak. And it doesn’t mean you just do whatever people want you to do.

It means you look out for the best interest of the team.

It means you protect the pursuit of the mission.

It means you strive to provide for the people in your care.

And it means you lay down and move beyond your own ego and dedicate yourself to elevating the status and survival of the collective.

In short, leadership means serving.

So if serving is beneath you, then perhaps leadership is beyond you.

How to Immediately Increase Your Self Discipline

How to Immediately Increase Your Self Discipline

After delivering a keynote speaking presentation last week a man comes up to me and asks, “Rory what could I do immediately to increase my self-discipline?”

It’s a good question, and the best answer is pretty simple but before I share the answer with you it’s valuable to understand the context of the answer.

I think this particular man, and most people in general who might ask this question, are looking for a permanent solution.

They’re looking for something they can do once that will permanently improve their self-discipline.

But that is the wrong way of thinking about it.

Success in anything is almost never the result of doing things right one time.

Success is the byproduct of doing things right consistently over periods of time.

And you will never really be successful until you actually understand that.

But that doesn’t mean the answer isn’t powerful. The answer is powerful because it’s the same answer in every situation.

So in that way it is something you can learn to do once, and then if you can get yourself to repeat that one habit consistently over time, it will bring you the success you’re looking for.

(Which, by the way, is why our core business at Southwestern Consulting is 1 on 1 coaching because we know what people really need help with is not learning one time what they need to do but rather they need help with the accountability of actually getting themselves to do the thing consistently over a long period of time.)

So back to the issue at hand. How do you immediately increase your self-discipline?

Simple: you think longer term.

Anytime you evaluate a decision in the context of what feels good here and now, you’re going to always gravitate towards doing the easiest thing.

But anytime you evaluate a decision in the context of what is going to make tomorrow better, easier, and more fruitful then you’re willingness to endure sacrifice increases.

We often think that we don’t have “enough” discipline but that is inaccurate.

We have plenty of self discipline.

It’s just that self discipline becomes dormant in the absence of a dream.

So it’s not really a matter of increasing your self discipline as much as it’s a matter of activating it.

It’s already there.

As you get clear on what you want in the future, your energy activates for what you can endure right now.

If you’re not thinking about the impacts on your future, you default to what creates the best situation right now – which is usually indulgence.

It’s not a matter of how much willpower you have.

It’s a matter of how long is your perspective.

So the permanent solution that is immediately available to you for increasing your self discipline  is to think longer term.

But you can’t just do it once. You have to do that every time you’re confronted with a decision about whether or not to be disciplined.

Which is why we at Southwestern say “success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day.”

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

Pardon the bathroom setting of this story but I think it’s worth the lesson.

It was just another normal travel day for me as I headed into a Charlotte airport E-Terminal public restroom for a quick stop in between flights.

Like most people, I’ve obviously been in plenty of public restrooms over the years and probably encountered maybe 50 bathroom attendants- but none like the one on this particular day.

I’ve rarely ever given any of them any tip because they didn’t really provide much value to me unless they had a stash of products sitting there and I used something.

But on this particular day I walked in and was enthusiastically greeted with a big presence and a large smile.

“Welcome in sir. You’re looking sharp! My name is William and my goal is to keep it fresh, keep it fun and keep it as fast as possible for you while you’re in here!”

“Fun?!” I thought to myself. “This could be interesting.”

William’s first act though was that he sprayed a very pleasant air freshener in the general direction I was heading.

Then before I had a chance to even react he said “please allow me to help” and gently grabbed my bags from my hand.

Once he saw where I was headed he actually walked over in front of me and sprayed the handle I would be using with disinfectant spray and quickly wiped it off. He smiled again.

At that point he then wiped down the handles of my bags and placed them near the exit of the restroom.

As I prepared to exit, he beat me over to the sink and turned on the faucet for me so it was running warm before I arrived and then held out a bottle of soap to squirt some right into my hand and smiled again.

Before I was done rinsing my hands, he tore off a couple paper towels and patiently waited with them standing by for when I was ready.

As I dried my hands he grabbed my bags (with a towel covering his hand) and brought them over to me with a big smile and said “my guess is you’re a busy guy with not a lot of time to spare. Can I answer any questions for you about where you’re headed in the airport?”

I simply smiled at him and said “thank you for your wonderful service William.” I handed him $5 and walked out.

Not only did I tip him, but he managed to pull off the same routine with every person as they walked into that restroom.

In the few minutes I was there, William must’ve earned around $15 in tips.

As I walked out I thought “what an incredible guy!”

And I asked myself what was it about William that made my experience so wonderful and unique that I would literally give him a $5 bill for doing things I could’ve easily done for myself?

Sure, he was positive, enthusiastic and pleasant and that counts for a lot. But I’ve met other pleasant bathroom attendants and never felt compelled to tip them.

And then I realized what his key service difference was…

He anticipated the need.

He didn’t just serve my needs. He anticipated them.

A clean bathroom with all the necessary items you need to do your business is meeting the need.

But when they’re each presented and activated for you on your behalf just moments before you need them, that’s special.

It’s special because it’s useful.

It’s useful because it’s helpful.

Because it’s helpful, that makes it valuable.

Delivering what your customers want is good customer service.

But great customer service is anticipating their needs before they come up.

It’s knowing what they’re going to need and supplying it before they even think to ask for it.

That’s what creates a great experience. And that is a part of what creates a unique experience.

It’s thinking through “what could make this experience better for my clients?”

“What could we do that would over deliver on their expectations?”

“What could save them time?”

“How can we be more useful?”

“How could we provide for our clients in a way that would far exceed anything they’ve ever experienced?”

Those are the types of questions that bring about remarkable customer service.

If William can do it with the ultimate commoditized experience, then surely we can all figure out a way to pick it up a notch for our own customers.

 

6 Elements of Great Communication with Dianna Booher – Episode 203 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Diana_Booher

Dianna Booher is the bestselling author of 47 books, published in 60 foreign-language editions, with nearly 4 million copies sold. Her personal development topics include leadership communication, executive presence, writing, and life balance. Her most popular titles include:

  • Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader
    • What MORE Can I Say? Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It
    • Communicate With Confidence: How to Say It Right, the First Time and Every Time
    • Speak With Confidence: Powerful Presentations That Inspire, Inform, and Persuade
  • Communicate Like A Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done

National media such as Good Morning America, USATodayThe Wall Street JournalInvestor’s Business Daily, Bloomberg, Forbes.com, FOX, CNN, NPR, Success, FastCompany.com, and Entrepreneur have interviewed her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues.

Keynotes, consulting, and training clients include IBM, Exxon Mobil, JP Morgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, PepsiCo, Novartis, Honeywell, Merrill Lynch, Department of the Navy, and NASA, just to name a few.

She has been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association. Success Magazine has named her to its list of “21 Top Speakers for the 21st Century.” She also appears at #54 on the Richtopia “Top 200 Most Influential Authors in the World” list (2017).

Show Highlights:

A leader improves the situation beyond what it was when they took over. @diannabooher

A Leader improves the status quo. @diannabooher

People micromanage because of fear and misunderstanding. @diannabooher

Micromanaging is a sign that a leader hasn’t developed the necessary strategic perspective. @diannabooher

Leaders need to think strategically about the long-term effect of their actions. @diannabooher

The one question every leader must answer correctly: “What are you working on?” @diannabooher

On social media: have a strategy, choose your channels, be consistent and engage. @diannabooher

People have to take responsibility for their own career development. @diannabooher

Fire people to be fair. @diannabooher

Great communication must be clear. @rory_vaden

Great communication must be concise. @rory_vaden

Great communication is consistent. @rory_vaden

Great communication is strategic. @rory_vaden

Great communication is always straight forward. @rory_vaden

Great communication is servant minded. @rory_vaden

Learn more about Dianna and check out her book by visiting: communicatelikealeaderbook.com

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

Meet the New Southwestern Consulting

Over the years, we’ve learned from customers that there is a specific reason why they choose to do business with us instead of our competitors. They’ve helped us understand that while we do help them grow revenues, increase sales, recruit and build sales forces, and help them achieve their goals-there is also something else inherently unique and different about our team and culture that makes them work with us.

They said that it’s because:

We don’t just teach people how to sell more; we teach people how to sell better.

We teach people a different way of selling.

We teach salespeople how to sell ethically, honestly, and without shortcuts.

We teach salespeople how to be better listeners, not just better talkers.

We teach salespeople how to be more service-minded, not just better closers.

We teach salespeople how to take pressure off of people, not put more pressure on them.

It’s true.

We teach people and businesses how to sell more. It’s the core of what we do.

But we also care just as much about teaching them to do it the right way. This is because we want to help the world think about selling as one of the most honorable professions there is, and not just think of it as a job.

We love sales.

We love salespeople.

We are salespeople.

And like you, we believe there is a higher purpose you can serve by being in sales, which is why we are happy to share with you and announce the core essence of our rebrand.

You will see this new mantra integrated throughout our brand new website, videos, social media presence, and all of our updated marketing collateral.

We don’t just teach you how to grow your revenues or increase your income; we help you:

ELEVATE SALES.

P.S. – Thanks to all our customers and fans for all your love and support throughout the years! We hope you’ll take pride in being part of this new brand that we’ve created for you. Check out our new website at southwesternconsulting.com.

How to Activate Your Creativity

creativity

Nobody likes constraints.

We don’t like being told we can’t do something.

We don’t like not being able to afford something that we want to do.

We don’t like being forced out of what is comfortable.

We don’t like finding out that we don’t have the resources we hoped we would have to execute new ideas.

Yet there is a magic to constraints.

There is a blessing to not having all you want.

And there is a power to having limited resources.

The power is creativity.

Creativity is often activated as a byproduct of constraint.

You don’t need to be creative when everything’s going your way, you have unlimited resources, and you can do whatever you want to do.

You have to be creative when there is a need to find a way, solve a problem, and figure out a path for where no obvious one exists yet.

And that is when the magic happens.

Magic happens when you are forced to be creative.

Magic happens when your back is up against the wall and you have no other choice.

Magic happens when everything you’ve known changes and now you need to come up with something new.

And people who survive…

People who thrive…

People who change the world…

Are creative.

And their creativity is very often the birth child of constraints and challenges and difficult circumstance.

So, if you’re experiencing constraint, don’t be frustrated; be thankful.

Don’t be discouraged; be determined.

Don’t be blocked; be creative.